Project Results: 

Waste2Energy (W2E)

Adoption of Clean Green Energy in Kisumu, Kenya

About the project
Water hyacinth, that has invaded Lake Victoria, can be used as a source of clean, green energy. To the growing urban population in Kisumu and beyond, it could be an affordable, safe and fuel-efficient option. The idea was to transform water hyacinth from Lake Victoria into fuel pellets that can be adopted and purchased by the local communities for cooking and heating. Intention was to provide proof of the innovative concept of adoption of fuel-pellets and stove combinations by locals. Trials were conducted with both non-carbonised fuel pellets and carbonised hyacinth based briquettes and compatible stoves.

Key results

  • Development and testing of fuel pellets and briquettes from water hyacinth and other available waste materials like bagasse and sawdust.

  • Technologies for both small scale and large scale production were identified. A small scale production line was set up for this trial phase.

  • Adoption trial with 40 households which have made them aware of improved cook stoves and clean fuels.

Tips for the future

  • Providing appropriate cook stoves for households to use is important.

  • Explore financing mechanisms that would enable residents to acquire the cooking stoves, e.g. by working with local MFIs.

  • There is need to review pricing and packaging of pellets and briquettes to make them affordable and available. Even with higher calorific values and environmental and health benefits, the bulk of consumers have a limit as to how much they could stretch spending.

Potential for growth
Non-carbonized pellets could be of interest to companies that have boilers that can handle pellets. For consumers, the pellet stoves are in general not widely accepted. For this market to grow, one would need to team up with producers of alternative cooking stoves that run on pellets. Large corporates may also be convinced to make investments for the use of pellets.

Project partners
Greenergia LTD, Deltares, SNV. 

November 2017 – April 2019


Kisumu, Kenya


Choice of Location
The project proposes Kisumu in Kenya as the location for this project. This location was chosen as Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. The specific location for the project, Rare Beach, Osiri sub-location, is the peninsula in Lake Victoria which houses Kenya Organic Research centre (KORCE) of the Greenergia LTD Company. The peninsula and surrounding areas were chosen as the specific location for this project as it provides the ideal pilot area for the Waste to Energy-project (W2E). First of all the peninsula is surrounded by the lake where the water hyacinth has invaded the lake. Secondly, the neighbouring villages, as well as nearby larger Kisumu area, are in need of sustainable energy solutions. Finally KORCE is located on the peninsula. This pilot project builds upon KORCE’s work and can be implemented in a relatively short time-span as it will make use of the facilities, infrastructure and human resource in place.

Water Hyacinth and Lake Health Challenges
The Lake Victoria waters are in an appalling state. Despite earlier short-term mitigation approaches, the situation is worsening (Kisumu Governor J. Ranguma Pers. Comm.): a continued waste, contaminant and sediment inflow continues to pollute the lake, expanding floating mats of the invasive water hyacinth blocking sunlight from entering the lake and reaching the plankton base of the Food chain, increasing toxic Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), pathogens and waterborne diseases, and more frequent lake oxygen depletions and related fish-kills. Among the worst of the affected areas is the bay where Kenya’s fourth largest city, Kisumu, sits. Here the situation is disrupting the local fishing economy, lake transport, the water intake by beach communities, shore-bound recreation and developments.

The key factors lowering the lake’s health and the riparian communities depending on it are related and the way interlinkages deteriorate and work through the Kisumu region is complex. Nevertheless, in the near-confinement of Kisumu Bay it has become clear that immediate sustainable development solutions must be implemented that improve on the Kisumu surface water quality in terms of water hyacinth and the near shore erosion control.

Energy demand, Social and Health Challenges
The way Kisumu families are cooking and use solid fuels with still inefficient cook stoves is in many ways adversely impacting their very livelihoods, health, environment and development in different ways :
1 Health: The exposure to indoor air pollution from incomplete combustion of biomass fuel accounts for nearly 500,000 premature deaths annually in SSA and contributes to the global disease burden.
2 Environment: Unsustainable use of solid biomass for cooking contributes to forest degradation and loss of forest cover around urban areas. Furthermore, inefficient burning of biomass for cooking contributes significantly to GHG emissions.
3 Social: Women and girls, who have primary responsibility for cooking, spend hours each week collecting fuel wood. This translates into lost opportunities for increasing income, gaining education, and makes them subject to safety and security hazards.

Market investigations with the University of Nairobi (UoN) in 2014 have shown that the charcoal supply chains run back into East Africa as far as Rwanda and the DRC. The important charcoal distribution centres in Kisumu shows that the growing urban population in Kisumu and beyond is in need of affordable, safe and fuel-efficient options for cooking and heating.

The demand for fuel is rapidly increasing due to growing lake communities and dwindling raw wood resources. Also, the exposure to indoor air pollution from incomplete combustion of a growing number of different lower-grade biomass fuels is likely to increase, accounting for more premature deaths in Kisumu (PHILIPS, CORDAID personal communication). Therefore, a good alternative to firewood and charcoal is urgently required preferably in combination with cleaner and fuel-efficient cook stoves.

Actors and Context Readiness
Urban Kisumu is characterised by a rapidly growing population, high population density, water scarcity, falling food production, and low resilience to climate change. The combined effects of climate change and demographic growth are increasing food insecurity, environmental degradation, and county poverty levels. The First Kisumu County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017 (CIDP) clearly identifies environmental degradation and climate change as key development challenges that need to be linked with Kisumu policies and programmes to ensure that projects that address them are implemented jointly. Addressing population growth, environmental degradation, and climate change together is a by government acknowledged top priority if Kisumu County for achieving sustainable development. In CIDP, the county government, donors, and program implementers have recently developed policies that will implement programs that integrate better population dynamics, environment and climate change, and development. In there, the transferring of the skills and techniques to manage and use hyacinth for product developing in the Energy-water-food nexus is of high priority to the sectoral associates and entrepreneurs of Kisumu. Although the financial resources are not yet secured, a near 800 mKES will be reallocated for organising hyacinth usage and removal.

Despite its proximity to Lake Victoria there is, due to degradation of upstream catchments like wrong land use and the destruction of forests and wetlands, insufficient quality-water availability. The majority of Kisumu’s population depends on wood fuel and charcoal for cooking and heating. Increase of population (4-5 % / year), now heading towards 1.2 million in 2017) and associated increase in farming and fishing, will undoubtedly accelerate deforestation and exacerbate climate change impact.

Following the worsening conditions and in line of the outspoken needs and demands for alternative fuel resources that impact less the environment and sectors’ developments, both the County government of Kisumu as well as the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA under the Ministry of Devolution and Planning) recognise the presence of W2E players in Kisumu. The current Governor (Hon. J. Ranguma) and his cabinet inaugurated the Greenergia’s initial programme setup which was covered intensely by the local media e.g. K.T.N (Kenya Television Networks) and also print media in the NATION and STANDARD Newspapers.
The governmental bodies, manufacturers, stakeholders, practitioners and end-users both public and private recognise that the design and implementation of programmes, such as proposed here, that integrate better population, environment, climate change and development are of outmost importance for the further diversification of energy resources, reforestation, water conservation and recycling, and modernisation of fisheries.

This local demand can set the stage for stronger PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) with improved governance that will seek to secure the financial resources from county government, development partners and NGOs to fund upgrade and upscale programmes in Kisumu and also in other nearby counties bordering the lake. In a later phase the governance and business model can be up-scaled throughout the Victoria basin, following a typical Dutch Integrated Basin approach, starting in the most populated port and urban areas facing similar conditions (Mwanza, Jinja, Entebbe, etc.).

Due to the potentially large alternative fuel market, several small-scale entrepreneurs in and around Kisumu have started pelleting and briquetting from different wastes. However, with a traditional approach to developing markets, they have not been able to deliver value for money.

W2E believes that a quality cooking product better fitting the needs of the local consumers, better synergising the available entrepreneurial skills through a community of best practice, and fitting the integrated ecosystem-based approach of Kisumu development plans greatly increases market readiness of the proposed pellet-stove PMCs.

Current Activities
The proposed partners are currently engaged in activities relevant to this project. This section describes the stages prior to submission as well as the parallel activities relevant to this project.

Activities leading to this project
Deltares has been active with R&D and modelling in Victoria basin since the early nineties. The lake dynamics in the African rift valley system have been subject to studies by numerous PhDs and MSc students in cooperation with the FAO, WUR, UvA, experts of the East African Great Lakes Observatory network, SADC, UNU-INWEH (USA), UNESCO-IHE and GIZ, the Great Lakes of the World working group of the Aquatic Ecosystem Health and management society (AEHMS ) and discloses valuable development information on Lake Victoria and other African great lakes.

Deltares develops and applies innovative Public private partnerships models, tools, games and participatory approaches that support business in pursuing sustainable and inclusive growth in especially those regions where sustainable resource use is crucial for further development. Greenergia and the deteriorated Kisumu situation where brought under the attention by the Ministry of Finances (Treasury and PPP-unit) and the University of Nairobi (MOU partner). An inclusive business framework through which 4 Returns of investments (ROIs) need to be generated from the urban water perspective is being developed. These are economic, environmental, social and inspirational returns, needed to curtail current developments in Kisumu. Deltares and partners are linked to the Kisumu case through which new and frugal ways to continuously capitalise on the applied knowledge from Kenya, India and the Netherlands are put in place and monitored.

Deltares focuses on this region because of the planned large-scale rehabilitations of Lake Victoria ports and transport in connection the northern and central corridors of East Africa. It will put future Kisumu in a position to handle increased traffic volumes of cargo. The expected increase in the transport and im/export of goods has naturally big impact on the infrastructure and the city. In order to reduce risks and improve resilience of the developments, Deltares is convinced it should be developed along a rehabilitation of Winam bay water quality, shore zones and control of the water hyacinth and HABs.

Parallel activities:
Greenergia has the vision to create a Kenya’s largest renewable energy centre in Kisumu on the 40 acre peninsula of Rare Beach, Kisumu. Greenergia’s KORCE focuses on producing premium quality, recycled products for commercial and residential use in a cost effective manner. The KORCE vision has 9 separate phases - each one providing unique socio-economic and environmental benefits. Implementation of Phase 1 related to Formula-5 Briquettes is on-going. KORCE produces the highest quality of formula 5 briquettes which are a renewable source of energy used to heat boilers in manufacturing plants. The name comes from the 5 different types of waste, which are recycled to produce the briquettes, namely, bagasse (sugar factory waste), sawdust, rice husk, coffee husk and dry hyacinth. The company owns an Aquatic weed harvester which harvests hyacinth from the lake daily as well as briquette production equipment.

Deltares is currently involved in several activities that are regional and topic-wise linked. These activities include:
- Setting up with partners a scoping study for master planning of Kisumu area involving the health of the bay and the hyacinth and erosion control.
- Reporting of additional liability issues for country governments due to water hyacinth and Climate Change for proposed Kisumu harbour upgrades and developments and transport.
- Promoting and seeking political support at country level for Dutch Integrated Water Resources management and monitoring approaches for Kisumu bay.
- Seeking additional RVO funding for waste management issues Kisumu city with help of the NWP and the EKN.
- R&D developments to produce other alternative products from Water hyacinth (paper, hydroponics with AGRI companies, biochar, pyrolysis-briquettes, biogas with ENKI bv, diesel oil with UvA, fertiliser, fodder and feeds with TNO and ALTERRA, improved water hyacinth collecting and drying techniques, but also quick-scan tools for pathogens with health sector, and citizen monitoring approaches, etc.).
- With TU installing a meteorological statin at Greenergia’s peninsula to study water hyacinth dynamics in order to optimise harvest and as early warning for Harbour related operations (under initiative
- Deltares is furthermore setting up a platform for sharing data/ information on the Hyacinth cases throughout Africa. New products and techniques will be presented according to their dare-to-share policy.

SNV is a partner in the Nakuru County Sanitation Programme (NCSP). This is a four-year European Union (EU) co-funded programme with the County Government of Nakuru, Umande Trust, NAWASSCO as the implementing partner and Vitens Evides International (VEI) as the coordinating partner. The NCSP’s overall objective is to demonstrate and implement a commercially viable sanitation value chain, benefiting residents of unsewered (peri-)urban low income areas in Nakuru County, Kenya.

The VIA Water supported project “From Pit to Product: Biomass-fuels and Bio-fertilisers from Faecal Matter and Urine in Nakuru, Kenya” supports the third objective of NCSP: “Controlled and certified production and sales of human excreta products on large scale”.
SNV works towards the end of the chain where faecal matter and urine are transformed into viable marketable products for Nakuru markets and in particular through Public private partnerships are targeting low and medium income households, small and medium size restaurants and hotels as well as poultry farmers. For more information on this project and its progress see the project description and updates on the VIA Water website .

Based on an in-depth understanding of market dynamics and consumer insights, experts in SNV’s Renewable Energy Sector determine contextualised solutions for the effective dissemination of clean energy technologies to a diverse pool of consumers. Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, as highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goal no. 7, is at the heart of SNV’s work. The organisation tackles both the supply of and demand for clean technologies by partnering with local expert organisations, training entrepreneurs to enter competitive markets, linking businesses to form effective networks, and increasing awareness and demand for cleaner energy products.

SNV works with local and leading clean-tech start-ups as well as with established organisations to bring reliable products to end-users and do so by using mechanisms that adapt to consumers' purchasing power. This way, SNV develops an enabling environment which outlasts our intervention and perpetuates the benefits long after we are gone. SNV’s projects facilitate market development, strengthen value chains and trigger job creation and income growth. The solar PV devices, bio-digesters and improved cookstoves improve the lives people worldwide. For more information see:

SNV Kenya also implemented the Results Based Financing (RBF) for Clean Cook Stoves project funded by Energizing Development (EnDev). This is a 4-year project focused on the application of a temporary financial product to incentivize MFIs and SACCOs to provide loans for cookstoves which are tier 4 upwards based on International Workshop Agreement rating framework. This includes four performance indicators (efficiency, indoor emissions, emissions and safety) and five tiers 0-4. During this project a market analysis for higher tier cook stoves as well as a feasibility study on establishing and commercially operating a fuel pellet plant in Kenya, were conducted.

Project Plan

The project is designed to be completed within a12-month period. The goal is to set up production processes for fuel production, conduct an adoption trial and develop an appropriate business model.

The project has three phases:

Phase 1 is focusing on setting up of the production processes and preparation for the adoption trial (Greenergia K Ltd in the lead)
Phase 2 will focus on the adoption trial (development and execution) (SNV in the lead)
Phase 3 is focusing on the overall governance model (PPP instrumentation and business model) (Deltares in the lead)

Target group

The project trials the use of produced fuel-pellets combined with gasifier stoves. Target groups are local communities and institutions in Kisumu. This section will elaborate on the specific target group:
Low income households in Kisumu
As per the MajiData, Kisumu has 22 Low Income Areas (within the blue-lined area) with a population of over 150,000 people. The area includes the peninsula in the lake left lower corner.
The number of low income households in Kisumu is increasing, especially in lake shore dwelling communities depending on the fishing industry, as the lake is disastrously polluted. In Kisumu, people largely use stoves in their households. Charcoal in used in urban regions mostly, while wood-fuelled stoves are more common towards peri-urban and rural regions.


Sustainability (FIETS)
Financial Sustainability:
Greenergia will include pellet production into their portfolio of products produced. The business plan developed in the course of the project will provide guidance on the financial viability of fuel-pellet production for the said target groups. The cost-benefit analysis that will be conducted will factor in the costs of operation, maintenance, salaries and full replacement.

Institutional Sustainability:
Greenergia, as an established local company, takes up the role of social enterprise in this project. As part of the deliverables a governance model will be developed that clarifies the opportunity and expectation management as well as strategic approaches after the project period. The model’s core element is the development of other inclusive green enterprise-based solutions through the further capitalisation of disseminated knowledge. This entails knowledge on Management & Monitoring, Market Analytics, Communications, Exchange but also applied knowledge defining the roles of stakeholders and certain dos and donts within the PPPs.

Environmental Sustainability:
Earlier working with Water Hyacinth is to some degree hampered by the laws in Kenya. Making products out of a noxious weed is to some degree limited and should be agreed upon by the county and by the national regulation including those of MENA.

Greenergia has conducted an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in 2013 which was submitted to NEMA under the name ‘Environmental Impact Assessment Project Report for a proposed project on recovery of renewable energy from assorted waste in Rare Beach, Osiri Sub-Location, Kisumu County’. The report (available upon request) was approved and a license issued. An audit is planned for 2018. The partners will continue to work with the relevant government bodies to ensure a sustainable base for the proposed business.

Technical Sustainability:
The R&D carried out for the industrial pelleting production by Greenergia-KORCE and Indian, Kenyan and Dutch knowledge partners has been optimised for Kisumu conditions. This includes the technology and hardware needed for the services to function including maintenance, repairs and part replacements. Also, the techniques for producing renewable energy from biomass in various forms are proven robust methods and technical sustainability of the process and the upscaling is likely. Feedback from the community of practise and the local PPPs will further optimise cost-efficient supply of raw materials and logistics.

Social Sustainability:
The local community in Kisumu (stakeholders, end-users and practitioners) is in need of affordable, accessible and environmental friendly government approved fuels. To reduce health hazards, the project explores fuel-pellets for gasifiers, the newest technology stove designed to limit hazardous fumes to escape into the air. Removal of water hyacinth enlarges fishing grounds and enables (see picture optimise ecosystem services) the re-use of valuable ecosystem services that form the base for sustained sociocultural development.

Overview of Goals

The overall objective or goal of this project is to transform water hyacinth together with other waste into fuel pellets and trial adoption of the pellets and stove combinations with local communities in Kisumu. Results from the adoption trial will be used to develop fuel-stove combinations tailored to the needs and preferences of the target groups as well as for design of effective marketing strategies to be used by entrepreneurs in the sector.

W2E targets different groups of stakeholders, end-users and practitioners in the following ways:
1. Improved access to environmentally sustainable and affordable cooking solutions in the form of hyacinth-based bio-fuels and improved cookstoves combinations
2. Improved economic activities due to increased water quality in Winam bay of Lake Victoria
3. Increased health due less polluting and toxic production and use of the fuel and due to decrease of waterborne diseases or pathogens by increased water quality of the lake
4. Improved and resilient shore zone by lowering deforestation and therefore erosion

Some of the key impacts are expected in an:
• Increased sustainable hyacinth pellet production for diversified fuel-cooking stove combinations in local and regional markets;
• Increased energy security in Kisumu;
• Increased public and private market involvement for inclusive growth business models;
• Growth of inclusive entrepreneurship in carbon-neutral energy chains in local and regional markets’ development;
• Increased capitalisation of applied knowledge in Kenyan, wider Africa + Dutch business and policy networks.

Results and indicators

  • Transformation of water hyacinth into fuel pellets and trial adoption of the pellets and stove combinations with local communities in Kisumu
  • Production of fuel-pellets by Greenergia in Kisumu
  • Adoption of fuel-pellets and stove combinations trialled with local communities
  • An Inclusive governance model developed